Voracious caterpillar munches its way across south-east

The box tree caterpillar
The box tree caterpillar
Councillor Gwen Blackett alongside the tree planted in her name.

Picture: Sarah Standing

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A voracious caterpillar that has spread across the south-east has been named ‘top pest’ by the Royal Horticultural Society.

The box tree caterpillar feeds on box plants used in formal gardens for hedges and shrubbery.

The caterpillar, which is native to Asia and is the larva of a moth, was first identified in England five years ago.

It was originally found only ino London but is now spreading across the south-east England.

The ‘top pest’ list is based on the number of enquiries received by the gardening advice team at the RHS.

1. Box tree caterpillar

2. Slugs and snails

3. Aphids

4. Large cabbage white butterflies

5. Vine weevil

6. Cushion scale

7. Lily beetle

8. Rosemary beetle

9. Fuschia gall mite

10. Woolly aphid